How to Smoke Your Cheese: The Art of Cold Smoking
Delving into the smokey arts with any degree of abandon, sooner or later you’re likely going to find yourself with a sincere desire to smoke something peculiar. Oh its starts innocently enough with the usual gamut of savory meats. But before you know it, and if you’re not careful, you may catch yourself trying to smoke such oddities as vegetables, fruits, and even nuts. And in the back of your mind, where brain thrusts often copulate, you no doubt will have the curious yet lingering urge to set smoke to your favorite block of cheese. No worries. Such thoughts are common place among the brotherhood of the pit, and not soon to be ashamed of. Indeed, fret not, for this is the pleasurable bane of many a pit keeper, of whom’s patron plumes of mesquite and smoldering apple are not just for meat alone, but a bevy of nourishment to that which benefits from the aromas abiding in the soft, tendrils of rising wood smoke. But then you ask yourself, because you’re a learned mind, how might I smoke thy cheese and not melt it all to copious goo? Good question. And luckily, it’s all been figured out for you. Its called cold smoking. And here is how you do it.
Cold smoking is not what you see nervous blokes on their lunch breaks doing, out the office back door on blustery, winter afternoons. No, cold smoking is more fun than that. It’s the rather unique condition in the BBQ experience where wood smoke fairly bellows from your cooker, but if you were to lay your finger to it, it would be quite cool to the touch. Because it is. Cold smoking done proper, you see, does not exceed 90 degrees, and sometimes, it’s even less than that. Most cheese begins to sweat at around 95 degrees, so if you can keep the heat lower than that, you will be doing well for yourself. The winter months are clearly then the prized slots on the calendar year. How one gets good smoke without the heat is often times accomplished by building a very little fire in your smoker, like 3 or 4 briquettes, and setting some wood chips on it to smoke. It can be a fickle experience, hard to regulate, and fleeting perhaps, but cold smoke can in fact be had. Or you could spend hundreds of dollars on some apparatus designed for the legion of pellet grills out there. Or, if you are a tinkerer, by golly, you could make a cold smoker out of various odds and ends laying about the homestead. We were not much in the mood to screw around, however, and just used our A-MAZE-N cold smoke generator instead, generously filled with their own pit master proprietary pellets. Simply light one corner of the little contraption, and the pellets burn like a fuse, following the maze as it goes. And a cold and wondrous smoke bellows forth.
In the big Weber Smokey Mountain, deep in the recesses of its enormous fire bowl, we placed the lit smoke generator, paying keen attention that it was receiving adequate airflow there. It puffed away contentedly, like an old steamship sidling out to sea. We then put a block of medium cheddar on the top grate, gently placed the lid on, and settled in for a wee bit of smoke watching. Cold or not, watching smoke curl is something that comes disturbingly easy to a patron of the pit. We are at once smitten for the ambiance. Drawing a lovely beverage, and taking up residence in the BBQ chair, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure. Glory be, but this the speed of life worth living! Clouds aloft like soft, white, pillow innards, drifting across a beautiful, blue sky, whilst a woodsy, aromatic smoke idles up out of the cold, enameled pit. The green leaves of the Cottonwood trees murmur in the soft wind, kissed by golden sunbeams cast from on high. And of course, the token family of Canadian geese which milled about on the lawn, like geese do, pecking through the steely, green blades there. They seemed equally as content as I, with the high rigors of cold smoking a hunk of cheese. Maybe even more so, in point of fact. And we both went about our business there, engaging the day, whilst the smoke gently curled.
After a couple of hours, all of which were sufficient for my pit-side loitering, I closed up the outdoor kitchen for the day. Bidding a farewell to the geese which still loitered in the cool grass. As I motioned inside the house, a pleasant aroma of lightly smoked cheese tarried with me. I swaddled the block in plastic wrap. Smoked cheese benefits from a long rest in the fridge, they say, sealed in plastic. Giving it time to do what ever it is cheese does after encountering smoke. That might be so, but let it be said, it also tasted mighty fine later that night, sliced, and in the good company of a few of your favorite crackers. Amen.
So next time you’re looking for a something different off the grill, or a good holiday treat, try cold smoking yourself up a block of your favorite cheese. The company of geese recommended, but optional.
*Here are a couple of amazon links for the two products we used today. The Weber Smokey Mountain, and the Amazen pellet smoker. Both top notch equipage that we’re proud to endorse. We are an amazon affiliate for these products, so if you purchase either, it helps fund this site a little. Thank you very much for your continued support!